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Space Station Simulation

Score: 79%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Enlight Software
Developer: Vision Videogames
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Edutainment/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

If I could give Space Station Sim an "A" for effort, I would. As it is though, this game comes up a solid C+ in the edutainment genre. I liked many of the aspects and directions that the game was trying to go. If you were to ask me honestly if they should continue, or release a new version, then I would be the first to stand up and give this project the green light.

When it comes to graphics and art for the game, there seemed to be a very mixed bag. There was a wide range of "Programmer Art" which is best described as the bare minimum for you to be able to tell what an item is. Then, when it came to the actual parts and modules of the space station, there was a decent level of detail. The launch sequences for the different delivery vehicles left much visually to be desired. They are these chunky smoke plumes and line drawings that look very last minute. There are many icons for the game that appear to give status and tasks for your astronauts. I had a hard time with these because most were overstylized and were not very well thought out as to their meaning and implications.

You have the option to change the appearance of the astronauts you create. I actually thought I had found a glitch, as I could not tell the difference in the genders. There were eventually enough differences in the characters to be unique.

They spent more time on the music and sounds for the game than I would have thought they would. There was even a title song. I am not sure how it came to be, as in if they made it for the game or they found an appropriate song that they could license. Either way, it was a nice addition. The voiceovers, on the other hand, were very dry and repetitive. This was especially annoying when the A.I. decided it would handle the interactions between the characters.


Gameplay:

Space Station Sim starts off, where else, but Mission Control. You will spend a lot of time here throughout the game. This is where you will come to create new astronauts, new modules and new components to hitch a ride up to the space station. To start off, though, you will create a new astronaut to join their crew mate already at home in the station.

You will choose the gender, ethnicity, body, hair style and color of the clothing. After this, you will choose your personality traits and strengths. The last detail is to choose a specialization and agency affiliation. The more diverse your affiliations, the more flags you will earn. I will talk about those next.

You don't have currency, per se; what you have is flags of support to use towards the purchase, building and launching of the parts for the international space station. You earn more flags by having a diverse crew and conducting experiments that the affiliated country feels necessary. When it comes to the building of modules and components, there are a few more considerations than if there are just enough flags. You have to have a way to get it there, meaning that the launch vehicle has to be ready. You have to make sure you have a connection available. And, you must make sure you have the appropriate power available to power the part.

From here, it is a constant rush to make sure everything is in working order, and you have everything you need to support your crew. Watch the mental condition of your astronauts as well as the necessities of life itself. Build components in Mission Control to continually expand your station and make it as self-sufficient as possible.


Difficulty:

Space Station Sim poses quite a challenge. I found that the more you allow the A.I. to decide what it is your astronauts were going to do next, the more messed up your station will become. I had a real hard time understanding why the social interaction instigated by the A.I. would go from pleasant to hostile so fast. It really did feel out of place and out of control. It only took a little while to fix by taking control of each character, but I still didn't understand why it worked the way it did. You will need to pay particular attention to how you are connecting all of the pieces that make up the station, as you can not go back after you have connected everything. Remember to think of your station as a biosphere as well. The more self-contained you make it, the better.

Game Mechanics:

Space Station Sim is just like playing with the world's most expensive Lego set. Plug parts and pieces where you can to create an efficient and well thought out station. When all else fails, group them in areas so that it takes less time for your astronauts to get to where they need to be. Take control of your astronauts' interactions with each other, or you may have big trouble on your hands later. And, I hope to God that things do not break as often in real life as they do on the station. I know they are just trying to come up with tasks for the players to do, but man.

As is, this is a mildly entertaining way to look at the space station project. There needs to be a little more thought into tasks and experiments, and thus the level of interaction in these experiments. It would help to be able to plan your station or get a feel for the big picture of all of the modules without some of the trial and error feeling it currently has. You can read a lot about each module and component, but to really understand it, you still have to get it up there and in place to play with it. Anyway, a decent game that just needs a little more to it to call it a true sim.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Minimum: Windows 2000 or XP operating system, 1 GHz processor, 256 MB of RAM, 3D graphics card with 32 MB of RAM, 500 MB of hard drive space for installation, DirectX 9 (included), DirectX-compatible sound card, Media Player 9.0.0.2980 (included)

Recommended: Windows XP operating system, 2 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, 3D graphics card with 128 MB of RAM, 500 MB of hard drive space for installation, DirectX 9 (included), DirectX-compatible sound card, Media Player 9.0.0.2980 (included)

 

Test System:



Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 512 PCIE 16 ATI X1600XT

Sony PlayStation 2 Monster House Microsoft Xbox 360 Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated